Forget Blue Monday – five reasons to be cheerful on the most miserable day of the year

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  • Hear, hear.

    It’s Blue Monday, aka the most depressing day of the year. Here, Lizzy Dening explains why there’s a whole host of reasons not to let it get you down.

    It’s easy to see why people loathe January, but I’m not one of them. I reckon that the first month of the year is, in many ways, the best. It’s not because I’m a diet enthusiast, or Christmas bah-humbugger – more that I love the feeling of potential that comes with a clean slate.

    Not convinced? Hear me out…

    5 reasons to be cheerful on Blue Monday

    Get snugly and reflect

    When you peel away the stress and pressure of the festive period – not to mention the last year – January is really what Christmas should feel like. Insular, snug, and with lots of time for reflection.

    Admittedly it can feel painfully long before the end of the month pay cheque, but you’re left with time to focus on what matters. Sure, we might not be able to spend time with friends or family right now (thanks, lockdown), but we can dream up creative projects, plan holidays for 2022 (fingers crossed) and cook up social events for the year ahead.

    Reconnect – virtually – with people who make you feel good

    December is great but it can feel a bit exhausting and pressured. After all, it’s harder than ever to cope with feeling sad during ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.

    There are no expectations for this month – you can either catch up with friends virtually online or while exercising (just one at a time), or you can hibernate. It’s up to you.

    ‘Compared to December, January offers the luxury of getting to really choose mindfully who you spend time with virtually,’ says psychologist Natasha Tiwari (natashatiwari.co.uk). ‘Consciously choose to reconnect with people who make you feel good, energised, support you and inspire you to believe that you can create all you wish to in this new year ahead.’

    Dry January

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    Veg out on veg

    While it’s fun to eat 101 Terry’s chocolate oranges and stop moving throughout Dec, it’s clearly not good for us. We tend to start the new year feeling grumpy and constipated, so it’s nice to slowly unravel that. Eat more veg and start moving again in a way that feels good – our guides to home workouts and home workouts that require zero equipment might help. There’s plenty of variety easily available when it comes to seasonal goodness.

    ‘Leafy green veg are in abundance right now, which are rich in nutrients like folate and magnesium, helping our brain, detoxification, hormones, and mood,’ says Jodie Brandman, nutritional therapist (jodiebrandman.com). ‘You’ve also got the root vegetables and squashes, rich in things like beta carotene, helping your eyesight and progesterone which are amazing for hormone health and fertility.’

    Lower the booze to lift your mood

    If you’re having a month off the booze (or at least not drinking every day like at Christmas), you could already be feeling the benefits on your mood. ‘I love Dry January as it frees up the liver, allowing it to do what it does best and filter out toxins from our environment and excess hormones in our body,’ says Brandman. ‘Alcohol can negatively affect our moods, so getting rid of it just helps everything really.’

    Alternatively, if you’ve put your foot down at the thought of Dry Jan during a pandemic, we’re with you on that one, too. Whatever works for you.

    Blue Monday

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    Don’t put pressure on yourself

    Easier said than done in a year that’s been totally unprecedented on all fronts, but bear with us: we’re simply saying that it’s time to give yourself a pat on the back. You’re doing bloody great.

    Confidence Coach Lizi Jackson-Barrett explains more methods for boosting your mood: “Spend some time thinking about what aspects of 2019 you’re most proud of and that you can carry forwards into 2020. Maybe last year you started to learn a new skill (sourdough, anyone?); perhaps you made more time for self-care or maybe you stood up for yourself and it felt good. Forget about what you’re not doing well enough and think about what you’re already doing exactly well enough.’

    Rather than hitting hard to reach goals for 2021, why not make your aim for the year self-compassion? You could set yourself a target number of books to read this year, or try your hand at virtual volunteering.

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